Victims of abusers are not powerless

October 09, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

One of the most chilling aspects of domestic violence is the feeling of powerlessness abusers inflict on victims.

The truth, however, is victims are not helpless.

And they're not alone, either.

The Center for Family Solutions of Imperial Valley offers a multitude of services, almost all free of charge, to prevent violence and help victims recover their lives.

The original service was an emergency shelter, a safe place for women and their children who have nowhere else to go. It is still in operation today. The center also has emergency shelter services for male clients who have been victims of domestic violence.

Grant money recently received will allow the shelter to expand from four to 10 bedrooms. Two bathrooms and a living room also will be added. Last week there were 33 people living in the shelter.


The center also provides some victims with transitional shelter in apartments scattered across the Imperial Valley.

"Transitional shelters are designed for people who want to make the break from their batterer because a lot of people go back to them," said center Executive Director Barbara Shaver.

Individuals and their children can live in the transitional residences as long as two years on the condition that they have a plan to change their lives. Those plans include enrollment in a work-training program or school such as Imperial Valley College. The goal, Shaver says, is to make former victims self-supportive.

One problem is many domestic violence victims don't even know what services are out there or how to get them, said Judith Klein-Pritchard, the center's assistant director for legal services.

The center provides legal and advocacy services in which client advocates collaborate with other county agencies to get victims whatever services they need.

The center provides several educational classes to further assist former victims in becoming self-sufficient.

Parenting, computer, English as a second language, driver education and basic life skills classes are just some of the educational offerings the center provides free of charge. There are even activities and mentoring programs for children to help these young victims cope with what they've experienced.

All of these services would be needless if violence never happened in the first place. With this in mind, the center offers a variety of violence prevention and anger management programs as well.

A violence prevention program in local schools teaches young people how to communicate "so they can know how to approach their problems and discuss them without getting angry," Shaver said.

"Being mad is fine. It's what you do with it" that can be dangerous, Klein-Pritchard said.

"It's a re-education," she added.

These are just a few of the services the Center for Family Solutions offers the community. For more information about these or other services, call the center at 353-6922.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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